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The Balanced Life -- Take a Vacation

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DunebeachI'm working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone's project will look different, but it's the rare person who can't benefit. Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday's post will help you think about your own happiness project.

The biggest challenge of a happiness project isn't figuring out what resolutions I should make, but actually sticking to my resolutions.

Somewhat to my surprise, I've found that I have quite a lot of trouble keeping my resolutions related to play - that is, the activities I do in my free time, because I want to do them, for their own sake, for my own reasons, and not for money or ambition. To encourage myself to play more, I've made resolutions to Be serious about play, Take time to be silly, Force myself to wander.

Believe me, I see the irony in the fact that I work doggedly at fun and am so serious about joking around, but given my nature, I have to measure what I want to manage, and if I don't commit to having fun, it will get crowded out of my workaholic days. Even so, these resolutions remain a challenge for me.

Writer Jean Stafford scoffed, "Happy people don't need to have fun," but in fact, studies show that the absence of feeling bad isn't enough to make you feel good -- you must strive to find sources of feeling good. Regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times more likely to feel happy.

Starting today, for the next week, I'm going to keep another play-related resolution: Take a vacation. I haven't stepped away from my blog very many times since I started it more than three years ago, but it's time for a break.

I've started to feel overtapped -- the feeling captured perfectly in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo says to Gandalf, "I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right. I need a change, or something."

It's time for more butter, some fun -- which, for me, means as much reading in bed as I can get away with, given that my two children have a different notion of fun.

Now I'm off to pack for the beach. I'll be back soon.

* This little video really made me want to learn CGI! Maybe that can be my "novelty and challenge" task for Happiness Project II.

* I send out short monthly newsletters that highlight the best of the previous month's posts to about 26,000 subscribers. If you'd like to sign up, click here or email me at grubin, then the "at" sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (sorry about that weird format - trying to to thwart spammers.) Just write "newsletter" in the subject line. It's free.

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